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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Moscow, Idaho
    Posts
    13

    Default closing up side entrances on TBH for winter

    Hi, I have a beethinking TBH that has 3 entrance holes spread out along the side of the hive. The holes are spread out in such a way that there is one directly in the middle of the hive and one on each end. I started my bees at one end with one hole open and as they spread out through the hive I opened up the middle hole but put a cork in it with a hole in the middle as an entrance reducer to help the bees defend themselves against wasps and such robbing the hive (we have had quite the hornet and wasp year here). The bees always used the end-side entrance as the main entrance and exit with a few using the middle hole. My plan was to move the entrance reducer back to the end hole for the winter and close up the middle hole completely. However the bees have completely sealed in the entrance reducer in the middle hole and have started to close up the hole as well. My question is does it really matter what hole I leave open for the bees over the winter? If i just close off the end hole and leave the middle hole open will it create a problem for the bees since that is the one they mainly use?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Anderson, Indiana, USA
    Posts
    78

    Default Re: closing up side entrances on TBH for winter

    just let the bees do what they want..they will seal off anything they dont plan to use..or at least they should. They will open it up again if they decide to use it..I know this sounds like a silly answer but believe me mine do it..an they do fine

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Moscow, Idaho
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: closing up side entrances on TBH for winter

    Thanks for the response oldreliable. I am all for letting the bees do there thing but I feel like the entrance hole will be too large to leave open during the winter months as it gets quite cold here and the bees have not started closing that one down at all. That is why I wanted to move the entrance reducer into that hole plus it would be all too easy for mice and other small rodents to get into the hive with that hole open. I plan on doing one last check in the hive this weekend as it looks like we will have some decent weather. I think I will just scrape away the propolis and wax from the middle hole to get the entrance reducer out and fully plug that hole and move the reducer to the end hole like I planned. I generally leave all the extra propolis and wax, I have scraped away during my inspections, in the bottom of the hive for the bees to reuse so they shouldn't have to put so much effort into making and collecting more.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Portland, OR, USA
    Posts
    639

    Default Re: closing up side entrances on TBH for winter

    I would either leave it as is, as they are likely to close up the end entrance a bit with propolis if they don't like it. Or move the middle bung, clear out the propolis, put it on the end and swap in a full-size bung into the middle.

    Best,
    Matt

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Moscow, Idaho
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: closing up side entrances on TBH for winter

    Thanks Matt, I checked on the hive this evening and they were all clustered at the front of the hive as the temps are dropping down into the high 40-50s at night. I looked into the entrance and could clearly see the cluster right up to the entrance hole with some of the bees fanning with their wings. I assume they are circulating the air into the hive. Would plugging up the middle hole completely at this time interfere with that air circulation? Our extended forecast is calling for rain and highs in the 50's. I would like to start feeding them some sugar water too before it gets too cold. I have a feeder that sets down into the hive along a follower board with a hole for access in it. Can I just set this feeder at the end of the stored honeycomb or should I try and get it towards the front of the hive? TIA

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Portland, OR, USA
    Posts
    639

    Default Re: closing up side entrances on TBH for winter

    TIA,

    If you've got that many bees fanning at the entrance(s), I'd probably leave it at this point and wait until they retreat farther into the hive. How much honey do they have stored? I usually do a final inspection sometime in September to determine their store situation. If they've got plenty of stores (40lbs or so here in Portland, OR), then I don't worry about feeding.

    Best,
    Matt

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Moscow, Idaho
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: closing up side entrances on TBH for winter

    Matt. Thanks for the pointers. I got a chance to go through the hive one final time this afternoon as the sun was finally shining. I had 4 full combs of capped honey and the rest of the 17 bars are only filled partially. The tops of all the comb are filled and capped and about half of the rest have some uncapped honey in the centers. I am not sure how many pounds of honey this would calculate out to. The full combs are towards the end of the hive and the partially filled combs fill the rest of the hive. This being my first year I am not sure if this is normal or if it will be enough to get them through the winter. Any advice is much appreciated.
    Also I did try and remove the center bung hole with the reducer but the bees did too good of a job sealing that baby in and there was no way I was getting it out. So it is staying put. If the bees do not seal in the end entrance hole soon do you have any advice on how to make this entrance smaller or can I buy another entrance reducer to fit it and and just plug up the other hole with a smaller cork if necessary?
    Thanks in Advance (TIA).

    Amanda

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Portland, OR, USA
    Posts
    639

    Default Re: closing up side entrances on TBH for winter

    Amanda,

    Each comb in our top bar hives, when completely full of honey, are somewhere around 7lbs. If they've got 4 full, plus honey at the top of each of their other combs, they sound decent. I've left the 1 15/16" holes open in winter and they've done fine. If the bees don't like it they'll start sealing it up until they do. You may want to staple some 1/4" screen over the entrance to better protect against mice.

    Best,
    Matt

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Moscow, Idaho
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: closing up side entrances on TBH for winter

    Matt, thanks for all the input. I will go ahead and put some screen over the entrance once the bees completely shut it down for the winter.

    amanda

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Raleigh, NC, USA
    Posts
    47

    Default Re: closing up side entrances on TBH for winter

    I also have a TBH from Beethinking and have done pretty much the same as you. I put a plug in the middle entrance hole after having it open this summer and I've put the hole reducer in the end entrance hole since the nights are getting cooler. This seems to suit the bees.

    During the summer I took out the divider board and let the bees have the whole hive because there were so many of them. This weekend I decided to put the divider board back in since they've only filled about half the hive with comb and it doesn't look like they'll be building much more this year. This made them madder than they've ever been at me this year. They chased me back up to the house and I had to get my full suit on just to go back and get it done.

    I was wondering if I should fill the empty end of the hive with some kind of insulating material (maybe crumpled up newspapers) or just leave it empty. Any thoughts on what to do with that end?
    I could write a book about what I don't know.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Moscow, Idaho
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: closing up side entrances on TBH for winter

    Quote Originally Posted by Stan1951 View Post

    During the summer I took out the divider board and let the bees have the whole hive because there were so many of them. This weekend I decided to put the divider board back in since they've only filled about half the hive with comb and it doesn't look like they'll be building much more this year. This made them madder than they've ever been at me this year. They chased me back up to the house and I had to get my full suit on just to go back and get it done.

    I was wondering if I should fill the empty end of the hive with some kind of insulating material (maybe crumpled up newspapers) or just leave it empty. Any thoughts on what to do with that end?
    I left the divider board in the hive the entire summer and just gave the bees more space as they needed it. I don't plan on putting anything in the end of the hive that is not being used. I have not heard of this being done. But I am a complete newbie beekeeper so there is a lot I don't know. I do plan on insulating the the top of the hive above the bars with r-13 insulation cut down and wrapped in a plastic garbage bag.

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